That makes it two wins for UCLA in a row. Okay, they didn’t beat Michigan two weeks ago, but I think the UCLA football team took it as a win. The UCLA Rebels lost the game 28-7, but they hung in there against a very good Michigan team on the road at the Big House. Michigan is a much different team with Jim Harbaugh running the show. After Utah demolished Oregon, it is now looking like that wasn’t a bad Michigan loss after all. That was a game they very well could have won if it weren’t for a couple of mistakes from the Michigan quarterback, Jake Ruddock. Head coach Tony Sanchez has UNLV heading in the correct direction. It doesn’t happen often, but UNLV hired Sanchez from high school. He is a Las Vegas guy, as he was hired directly from a local Vegas school following six state championships.
The Rebels started the season off with a pretty difficult schedule. They started off against Northern Illinois, one of the top teams of the MAC, who nearly knocked Ohio State off on the road. UNLV held strong, losing by a score of 38-30. The next two weeks they had a brutal schedule. Facing UCLA and then Michigan on the horizon the next week. Not the greatest outlook, and it didn’t end in any wins for UNLV, but I give them credit for scheduling those two games more than anything. Last week they finally had a team to out their frustration on. UNLV blasted Idaho State 80-8. So, after four weeks it isn’t exactly clear how good UNLV is. Their first three games were against stingy competition, their last wasn’t the biggest test.
I feel like in week 5 here we are going to get a pretty good idea about how good UNLV is. Nevada, an in-state opponent, is right up their alley in my opinion in terms of competition level. This may be their most important game of the season in my opinion. Nevada has shared a similar road, playing against Texas A&M and Arizona to get to this point. Nevada is 2-2 and won the two games they should have won, but a 31-17 win against UC-Davis and 24-21 against Buffalo doesn’t do anything for me. Nevertheless, they did what they had to do and picked the wins up. This is an interesting one in Nevada on Saturday against two even teams that have shared similar roads up to today this season.
UNLV Rebels vs. Nevada Wolf Pack College Football Pick
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
UNLV vs. Nevada Pick:
If UNLV pulls this game off on the road against an in-state opponent, it would be a big step for the football program. The basketball team has been among the best in the country for several years now, but the football program has lagged behind significantly. UNLV isn’t going to be breaking any barriers this season, but a win would certainly be nice. I think guys want to play hard for Tony Sanchez and that is what we have seen. Again, they are 1-3, but I can’t criticize any of their losses against Northern Illinois, UCLA, or Michigan. Their only fair game was a rout of Idaho State. The line opened at +10 in this game, but the sharps quickly bet it down to 6.5. Note that UNLV are 3-1 ATS this season.
Blake Decker is getting his second year in the UNLV offense, last season passing for 15 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Those numbers need to get better. It is important that he keeps his TD to INT ratio on the positive side. A plus side to Decker’s game is that his legs can be his friend if the pocket breaks down. He won’t run for 100 yards a game, but he has some elusiveness in his arsenal. Decker thus far has passed for 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
Nevada hasn’t had a signal caller since Colin Kaepernick that could take command of the pistol and run it to perfection. I’m not sure if Tyler Stewart is the answer to Kaepernick, but he has faired well with 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions thus far this season. However, he doesn’t have the ability to move the ball with his legs. What made the Nevada offense so good in previous seasons was that they had a dual-threat at quarterback.
From what I can conclude, there isn’t too much separating these teams on the surface. If we take a look at the numbers, UNLV surpasses Nevada in key areas. UNLV is averaging 30 points per game compared to 25 a game for Nevada. Likewise, Nevada boasts the better defense by 4 points. That doesn’t provide us with a slam dunk by any means, but getting 6.5 points here looks really good to me. If you were able to get it at +10 even better. My play in the desert on Saturday will be the Rebels at +6.5
PICK: UNLV +6.5 (-110)